Shanty Town: Slum Themed Resort for the Tasteless Rich

Dec 11, 2013 6 comments

Themed hotels and restaurants can offer people an alternative and fantastic experience and can be quite popular among tourists when done tastefully. But Shanty Town is possibly one of the most tasteless and insensitive themed resort ever created.

Located near Bloemfontein in South Africa, the slum-themed luxury resort operated by Emoya Luxury Hotel and Spa looks like a slum – but only from the outside. The resort consist of a dozen shacks made from scrap wood and corrugated metal, but is equipped with conveniences such as running water, electricity, geysers, and even under-floor heating and wireless Internet access. To make the stay a bit more authentic, the operators have installed paraffin lamps, candles and battery-operated radios, as well as the famous long-drop toilet. Boarders are encouraged to heat water in outdoor fires and take part in a communal fire pit surrounded by chairs made of rubber tires.


One night in the shanty town costs about $82, a little less than half the average monthly salary of a South African and more than most slum dwellers can ever dream of making in a month. The themed resort has drawn flak from all around with critics using strong words such as “offensive”, “insensitive”, “tasteless” and “vulgar”. American political satirist Stephen Colbert has called it “poverty porn.” But according to its owner, Shanty Town was simply filling a gap in the market.

"Regular overseas visitors suggested that they would like to sleep in a real shanty rather than just seeing them from a tour bus, as you would in Soweto and Cape Town," Buks Westraad explained. "And that is where the idea was born -- to start a small township with its own shebeen which would be Emoya's own unique, themed hotel.

"We believe we've taken something with a negative connotation and turned it into something positive, which reflects the ingenuity of our South African people."

The company states on its website:

A Shanty usually consists of old corrugated iron sheets or any other waterproof material which is constructed in such a way to form a small "house" or shelter where they make a normal living. A paraffin lamp, candles, a battery operated radio, an outside toilet (also referred to as a long drop) and a drum where they make fire for cooking is normally part of this lifestyle.

Now you can experience staying in a Shanty within  the safe environment of a private game reserve. This is the only Shanty Town in the world equipped with under-floor heating and wireless internet access! 

The Shanty Town is ideal for team building, braais, fancy theme parties and an experience of a lifetime. Accommodates up to 52 guests. Our Shantys are completely safe and child friendly.














via IBTimes. Photo credits: Emoya Hotel & Spa and HuffingtonPost


  1. And why is this insensitive? If anything it's the dumbest idea I've ever heard.

    1. It is indeed a stupid idea, but the insensitivity should be plain to see; turning millions of peoples' suffering, misfortune, and disgraceful quality of life into a novelty attraction is hardly on the gentle side. It's like having a ride called "The AIDS Experience" at Disney World or something like that.

  2. Experience poverty in luxury? The Emoya Luxury Hotel in Bloemfontein

    The concept is questionable of course. However I given the founders the
    benefit of doubt and can believe they had good intentions when building
    this. What do you think?

  3. this reminds me of the town mentioned in the story of Harriet Tubman, although I'm sure theirs were made out of wood in her story, but nevertheless still a feeling of poverty and slavery in her day. This one though seems more clean cut and even a kind of decorated brick pathway which doesn't really suit the rest of its poverty. In reality it should look like the floor of the tire community place

  4. Dearth Tourism - I find this a bit sick to tell the truth, I wonder if you come home with genuine cholera as a souvenir....

  5. I am sure they had good intentions. I actually would do something like this as long as it was created in good intentions. Just something different than staying at luxurious hotels all the time.


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